So…. What’s an October without Zombies? Lots and lots of Zombies? That question always keeps this lil’ Catgirl awake at night, and if you are regular readers here at the ol’ Litterbox then I just know such ponderings must occupy most of your waking moments too. Well worry no more, for our next Halloween themed review takes us back to the Land of the Rising Sun for more crazy Zombie bashing action, in “Zombie Self Defense Force”, just out on Region 1 English subbed DVD this last week.
Synopsis….? Naturally, and it goes something like this: “They thought it was an ordinary day in the Japanese countryside – a day of sightseeing for tourists, photo shoots for a pop-star model and her crew, routing training for a squad of JSDF soldiers, treachery for an adulterous couple and sudden murder for gangsters. Everything changes, though, when a UFO crashes and releases some form of strange radiation. Confusion turns to sheer terror and the grim, blood-soaked will to survive when the dead rise and attack the living in a mindless cannibalistic frenzy! Soon, the soldiers and a handful of civilians are holed up in a secluded hotel, surrounded by the zombie hordes. There are other dark secrets at work, though. One of the soldiers, Yuri, is having sudden, painful flashbacks to a mysterious operating room, and there’s that spooky legend about the ghostly, ultra-patriotic Japanese soldier from WWII lurking in a local cave…”
So it’s the Japanese army versus the Living Dead eh? Well dang it, I just know you are gonna wanna find out if they can outfight Japanese schoolgirls on this subject so lets all “Read On”, shall we?
Zombies….. Ya just gotta love them. Maybe it’s the putrid green rotting complexions or their endless fascination with devouring people…. but somehow they just make the bestest villains ever for a movie. This particular one is the first in what is usually called the “Nihombie” series, followed by the passable “High School Girl Rika: Zombie Hunter” and then the absolutely atrocious “The Girls Rebel Force Of Competitive Swimmers”, which I’ve already reviewed here at the Litterbox. How does this one stack up? Well….
I can see why this one took the longest to get a US DVD release, as it starts right off with a bit of Japanese nationalistic US bashing which is probably supposed to be ironic, funny, and somewhat tongue in cheek, but which doesn’t exactly come across that way. Luckily this lil’ Catgirl is not easily offended, but there will probably be some here in the US who won’t get the joke and will take the whole “warmongering America” idea badly, especially coming from Japan….. I know Carolyn didn’t quite get it, and she’s really pretty open minded… Sigh…
Anyway…. after that stupid bit, we get right to the story in which a flaming UFO crashes on the wooded slopes of good old Mount Fuji at the same time as a motley bunch of different folks are roaming about the forest blissfully unaware of each other. A ditzy pop idol and her manager are doing a publicity shoot with a photographer and crew…. although I can’t for the life of me figure out why. She’s not exactly the “woodsy” type….. and is somewhat of a spoiled little brat, even if she does know how to do that “super cute” little girl voice that makes all the guys melt like butter. This was actually the funniest character in the whole film for us, as Carolyn immediately exclaimed “OMG!! Miyuki…. you do that “cute voice” thing too!!” Er… um… well I do… but I never use the “kawaii lil voice” for evil, only for good…. and sometimes when I reeeaallly reeeeally want something nice… honest. Besides… it doesn’t sound anywhere as cute in English as it does in Japanese… so there.
Also in the woods are a small squad of Japanese soldiers on maneuvers, and they’ve come across the body of some unknown woman who’s apparently hung herself out here in the middle of nowhere…. can’t tell you how many times that probably happens…. Not too far from them, two Yakuza gangsters are burying the body of some poor boob lured out to the woods for just that purpose. Top it all off with a couple in a little house, a man and his pregnant mistress, and you’re set up to have all sorts of fun when the radiation from the crashed UFO starts raising the dead…
One interesting thing….. it seems this series has one noteworthy notion. There’s far more Zombies in this first entry in the series….. and absolutely no gratuitous nudity or sex….. Seems there’s some kind of inverse ratio going on. Thank goodness…… (Not that our somewhat slutty pop idol doesn’t try like heck to find some excuse for some nudity or sex…. it just doesn’t happen. Sorry if that was a wish for some of you naughty guys out there….)
If the plot sounds a bit confusing already… don’t worry. That’s because it is….. Yep. At least plenty of Zombies are on hand to get shot, stabbed, hacked, and eviscerated….. when they’re not in turn eating up our cast. Just when you think that we’ve gotten that part worked out, we get a crazy zombie fetus running around….. fun, fun, fun for soooo many reasons, Hehehehe!!
Then it gets even stranger….. seems the locals have enshrined the body of a WW2 Japanese officer out here in the woods somewheres, and he’s woken up too, all ready to go banzai all over the enemies of Japan (which appears to also include our heroes….). OK…. but wait!! There’s more! Seems that the lone female member of the squad is having flashbacks to a creepy operating theater…. and some surgery she can’t remember. That can only mean one thing. She’s actually an experimental cyborg raised from the dead to become the first prototype of a new bunch of cyborg units for Japan’s revenge attack against the US…… payback for their loss in WW2. Huh?…. What?…. Er.. OK, as long as she kills some zombies first, I’m good with it…
And kill zombies she does….. Right up to a climactic battle with our undead Japanese officer who it seems hates the US so much he’s become a “super zombie”. She wins, but definitely come through it a bit worse for wear, losing an arm and being pretty badly damaged by the time we reach the end, as a veritable fleet of UFO’s crash to earth in flaming ruin as Mount Fuji finally erupts……. Ummmm…. errrr… yeah. Roll those credits!!
This one….. well it does have the most zombies for your dollar of all the movies in the Nihombie series, but certainly makes absolutely the least sense of any of them. The effects are pretty bad…. mostly some fairly crappy CG effects that look like they came right out of an 80’s music video. Make up? Well… the zombies look better than in either of the other films in the series, but still look very dated. I’ve seen better zombies at Halloween parties…
All in all, I can only give it 2 “Meows” out of 5…. it just is too confused and conflicted to make any sense, and it’s not sharp or witty enough to work as a parody either. The DVD is nice… with good subtitling and adequate extras all presented in a nice letterbox format too. But….. overall I guess I’ll have to look for this month’s neat Zombie fix elsewhere….. darn.
Since this one’s been out quite a while before making it’s way to Region 1 release, there’s a plethora of Trailers available…. and of course I just gotta end our little review with one. Enjoy!!